If you create content and don’t use a hashtag you are passing it through OWNED media (your subscribers) but it rarely escapes into EARNED media (other people who would be interested. Try adding a hashtag or two that you know people use and monitor and see how it resonates.
Without the hashtags, status updates, tweets, social objects sit there waiting for the subscribers to see it. WITH hashtags, outbound connection of content to channels occurs. In other words its’ the equivalent of telling them “it’s here”. Tweet your surfing home movie with #surf #sport or your latest culinary delight photo with #food #foodporn. If you create your own hashtag, forget to use a hashtag, you wont get the reach (or at least the velocity) you were hoping for. The minute you use a hashtag others are using, you open doors.
Here’s my tips to understanding Hashtags in more detail.
16 Tips for Using Hashtags
Hashtags are about SEARCH and DISCOVERABILITY of social objects. But they are also about COMMUNITIES OF INTEREST and linking your content to groups that would be interested.
1 Explore Hashtags as a Search Term
Putting a # in front of a word, turns it into a search term. Easy to track a conversation on a topic, conference or emotion by #DoctorWho, #TEDx #Love if you can click on the word. No hashtag means you have to type the word in a search box, and hope it's the same word others are using! 1
2 Jump In on One-off #hashtag threaded conversations (one time, temporary community)
Hashtags can be transitory (come and go) - such as one-off events. #RoyalWedding #ScottishIndependence or any world or local event, an earthquake or celebrity death. They are current and trending while happening, but rarely make it into a second or third week. TIP: Use them for your conference but don't expect them to hang around. 3
3 Understanding Memes #PoopTweet and random stuff
Random Joke Memes.
Add "in my pants" to a movie title e.g. Twilight In My Pants.
#AddAWordRuinAMovie is fun e.g. The Shawshank Coupon Redemption Movie
Regarding #Pooptweet: I don't know what this is and I don't want to know. :)
4 Consider Company Campaign Hashtags that are created for Branding
Some companies try to get people to use a #hashtag as a brand awareness exercises. e.g. #coke Usually this is a fail and only the company uses the hashtag, or the customers only use the hashtag during the competition or promotion. In some cases you can take your own hashtag and add it to the grassroots popular hashtag in the same tweet or status update. #myproduct #industrytag Example Channel Nine and the federal election #YouDecide9 #auspol #election
TIP only makeup your own branded hashtags if you are going to slap it on every piece of marketing material going out the door.
5 Join Hashtags that are community weekly meetings (regular occasional)
Once a week your favourite TV show comes on and everyone uses #TheBachelor or #Xfactor to chat. Or Tuesday night Public Relations people chat using #PRChat or Farmers use #AgChat. Tuesday night is also #spitbucket for wineries and wine aficionados. Think of cyclical hashtags like a regular segment on your favourite radio show or in your newspaper subscription. TIP be online WHEN your tribe are online! 4
6 Connect Your Content to Hashtags that are Rituals (weekly, Timing)
Every day of the week has a ritual hashtags from #MovingOnUpMonday (jobs) to #GivingTuesday (not for profits), through to #FF (follow Friday) and #SelfieSaturday). Use the right hashtag with the right timing for a bigger uptake of content distribution.
7 Enlist: Permanent Community of Interest (always on, perennial)
The discussion never dies down though it will spike during viral activity. #AusPol (australian politics) has more than 50 tweets per minute, non stop, day and night (well a bit quieter at 3am!). AND can increase to 12 million tweets in 12 hours during an election. These permanent communities find each other, may subscribe/follow each other (or may just follow the hashtag) and know exactly the topic of discussion when they search that key word. However large groups may mean your updates are lost in the noise. TIP: Find your communities of interest and use those hashtags to get greater exposure to your social objects. 5
8 Express Emotional Hashtags (personal, less group oriented)
Often emotional hashtags are used to quickly note how one is feeling. #sadface #happyhappyjoyjoy #love #sucks and so on. Rarely searched for directly, more a descriptor the social object (status update or tweet) with an attached sentiment. #FML TIP: banal, vanilla voices get no attention. Try #LOVE The new XYZ product or #PROUD of our CEO rather than the normal PR release! 6
"Wow, Great, Awesome #sarcasm #irony "are self explanatory. ;)
9 Descriptor Hashtags for photo (Instagram, objects in photo)
A common use of hashtags is to tag a photo with descriptors e.g. #sunset #Malibu #beach. This allows the three communities of interest to find the photo. Those people who like #sunset photos, those that like beach photos and those that like location photos. Less necessary today with the inbuilt object recognition algorithm (google for example can tell the photo is of the Eiffel Tower BEFORE you tag it). TIP use hashtags to make photos discoverable 7
Google have announced that all their searches are now encrypted. All of them. Every single one. This means no more keyword data will be passed back to site owners. Anyone watching keyword search activity to their site will already have noted that the ratio of "[not provided]" keywords has been steadily rising for years.
"Google’s search engine has begun to understand concepts, relationships between concepts, and even more complex questions." TIP: include #hashtags to make your social objects on networks more discoverable by Search Engines.
11 DON'T Brandjack, newsjack or trendjack hashtags
When the Mumbai bombings tragedy unfolded, a homewares brand (UK) tweeted special offers on table cloths with #Mumbai #Bombings to get the offers in front of more people. When Malaysian Air MH17 plane crashed, a travel insurance company tweeted travel insurance offers with "safer travels #MH17" type information. When... well you get the idea. TIP: this type of hijacking of community discussions never ends well for the brand concerned. Don't go in the kitchen if you can't stand the heat. Just because it's a hot topic, doesn't give anyone the right to spam...
12 Which Hashtag (popular, niche)?
use Hashtags.org or tweetreach.com to check velocity (did it take 1 minute or 1 year to reach 50 tweets on that #hashtag you are using???) Also check key influencers in your social media monitoring panel to see what hashtags are perennial and which one's are current. Maybe you are using #food but everyone else is using #foodporn? Perhaps your conference has #AReallyLongHashtag but everyone else is using #short ones?
13 Sort Generic words vs Specific meaning (sorting, filtering)
Blacklist can mean so many different things but #Blacklist is undoubtedly the TV show discussions. Bucket list can be very general but #bucketlist brings those discussions together. I love the TV show The Fringe but I use #TheFringe to make sure I'm not talking to people about hairstyles!
14 What's popular? Hashtags as a popularity contest (trending, crowdsourced)
When you see a hashtag trending it usually means that there is a substantial group of people creating content on, discussing and distributing information on that topic. Niche becomes broadcast numbers with hundreds of thousands and then millions chatting around that hashtag. Any sports Grand Final, or viral meme may trend at any time. TIP: Leaderboards are self-fulfilling i.e. if your hashtag starts trending, more people become aware of it and start using it.
15 Understand Folksonomy vs Taxonomy (free tagging vs categories)
Categories are restricted. The Dewey Decimal system means that a book on Napoleon could be in section :country:France or topic:war or biography. Because physical objects like printed books can only be in one location, there is a correct place and that's it. Music stores USED to have genres (categories) so a piece of music might be Classical, Jazz or World Music. Free tagging (hashtags) changes that. You can create multiple digital play lists with one piece of music e.g. Ride of the Valkyries by Wagner (Classical AND Apocalypse Now (Movie Tune) AND housework music). The old way of categorising the world (Animal OR Mineral OR Vegetable) now allows for multi-descriptor on a single object (including sentiment).
With the whole of humanity tagging objects, we see a ground up (popular tags) rather than a top down (dewey decimal system) approach.
16 Use CaMel CaSe in your carefully chosen #hashtag
If you don't use camel case: Susan Boyle (singer) #SusanAlbumParty becomes #susanalbumparty or to be clear how some people redefined it #SusAnalBumParty. Capitalise the relevant words. #RUOk Note that some hashtags have different meanings #WTF is What The Fcuk and also Walk to Freedom (Mandela movie). Be careful out there people!
Please contribute if you think of any more